Genetically engineered rubber newest glove material
Albany, CA–Ten years of genetic engineering has led the USDA Western Regional Research Center to perfect Parthenium argentatum, commonly known as Guayule–a plant from which rubber is extracted. Guayule`s rubber is comparable in quality to latex from Brazilian rubber trees, however, Guayule`s latex does not cause allergies.
The USDA Western Regional Research Center is developing a sustainable, domestic rubber crop to help guarantee a rubber supply to the United States. Guayule is a low-growing shrub native to the southwestern United States. Dr. Dennis Ray of the University of Arizona (Tucson) perfected the wild plant through genetic breeding methods. His genetically engineered plant grows quickly and produces up to 1,000 kg of rubber per hectare. Not only is Guayule a hardy rubber producer but it is also impermeable to viruses. In addition, Guayule is pliable enough to be used in gloves.
Ulex, Inc. (Philadelphia, PA) has already licensed the processing technology for Guayule. Founded in 1995, Ulex`s mission is to “to do nothing but commercialize Guayule,” says Ulex Founder and President Dan Swiger. Ulex will start its production with hypoallergenic catheter tips since less latex is needed to produce catheter tips than to produce gloves. The supply of Guayule latex will be limited until more plants are available for latex extraction. Ulex does plan to make hypoallergenic gloves once Guayule production increases.